Teacher

I am proud to be called daughter, sister, wife and mother. But there’s one more title I am so very thankful for.

Teacher.

I just love my job. I feel privileged and lucky that I get to spend each day with kids, teaching them and loving them. I feel special because I get to be their teacher. Lately I’ve really been pondering how lucky I am that I love going to work every day and that I love what I do. I am so thankful that, 20 years ago, when I sat down with my college advisor for the first time that I decided to be a teacher. I had wanted to be a teacher my whole life. I’ve always loved kids, I’ve always loved school and I’ve always loved being in charge. There could have been a million reasons why NOT to be a teacher but I did it anyway because I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I am so thankful.

Education is a rough career to be in at the moment. We have people “in charge” making decisions for us teachers that are, frankly, ridiculous. They have no clue about teaching. None. We are required to do more and more and more testing and more and more things that are not in the students’ best interest. We feel vilified and treated as though we are unprofessional. It’s astounding to me that the powers that be choose to focus on those who have dedicated their lives to children. It’s sad and, unfortunately, it’s making people dislike their job or not choose education for a career at all. That, my friends, makes me so sad. Because they are missing out on the best part of teaching.

The kids.

They are amazing. Truly. Kids get a bad rap these days with all of the discussion of bullying and mean girls and everything else related to kids. But I’m here to tell you, kids, in general, are wonderful. They are kind, thoughtful, loving, funny, smart and intelligent. They have great ideas, they are hard workers and they just want to be loved. My 8th graders are like puppies. They are all arms and legs and awkward and so lovable. They are still little but big. They love to play games and will do anything for a Jolly Rancher or extra credit, but they are also figuring out the dating scene and dealing with some major issues at home. I know my face lights up when they walk in the room each day because I am truly glad they are there and I am truly happy that I get to teach them. It is a gift.

When I made the decision to go back to the classroom after seven years of teaching online, I was nervous. Was I too old to relate to the kids now? Was I too tired now that I had kids of my own to be the kind of teacher I wanted to be? Would they still like me and my class? Would I still like them? All of my fears were unfounded because I forgot the most important thing. I love kids. And they know it. And that’s all there is to it.

I wish I could tell anyone who is thinking of going into education that, if they feel it in their bones and are passionate about making a difference in the lives of kids, they should go for it. Do it. Sure there are many things about education that stink. The pay. The stress. More and more requirements from the government. Feeling under-appreciated and overwhelmed. Crazy parents. Frustrating kids. I choose not to focus on all of that other crap and focus on the best part. I get to spend each day with kids who are sweet and funny and figuring out the world. Kids who choose to eat lunch with me once a week. Kids who stop by my room in the morning just to say hello. Kids who bring me treats just because. Kids who ask how my weekend was and really want to know. Kids who want to talk movies, books, divorced parents, sports, anything and everything. The fact that I might make a difference in their life, in a small way or a big way, fills my heart with joy.

Yesterday, our language arts teachers delivered letters to us. Students were required to write a thank you letter to a teacher who made a difference in their life and tell them why. I was humbled to receive a few. They made me cry, honestly. To know that students feel good and look forward to coming to my class because of me, to know that they feel loved and appreciated and cared for, to know that they know I am here for them no matter what, and maybe they learn a little math in the process, is a wonderful feeling. And I feel so very blessed to have chosen this life for myself.

What’s Up?

Let’s see…things are slowing down a bit, thankfully. I’m not being dramatic when I say that August, September and October were insane. INSANE. We were way too busy, I said yes to way too many things and we all ended up miserable. On top of that, school for Olivia was going terribly wrong and we had to spend quite a bit of time getting all of that worked out. We started the school year without a game plan for our family, which was a really bad idea, and we finally feel like we are just now catching our breath.

Matt and I went through a rough patch. He was angry, I was angry, we were way too stressed and over scheduled and ended up just not liking each other very much. Anyone who’s been married for longer than a minute knows that’s the way it goes sometimes. But, the great news is, we came out on the other side even stronger in our relationship. Thank God. Those times aren’t easy, are they?

Things are better. We’ve made some changes in our schedule, made sure our priorities are set straight and we feel as though we’re back on track. We’ve been working with Olivia’s school and that’s going better too. It’s still not great, but it’s better. As long as things keep improving, I’m OK with that.

The boys are great. They’re enjoying having some free time as well. We’ve been playing ping pong, playing cards and games and enjoying being together as a family…just as it should be.

I’m working really hard on getting back to this space regularly. I miss being able to express myself this way. I hope a few of you are still out there waiting to read. I know I’m looking forward to reconnecting with all of you.

What’s new with you?

Happy This Week

No soccer means no running around each night! We are enjoying having time after dinner to play ping pong, board games, watch movies together, etc. It’s such a nice break!

Matthew is playing basketball and it might be the cutest thing ever.

Gabe tried out for his school basketball team and didn’t make it. BUT he handled it very well and is going to play rec basketball instead. I’m so proud of the way he handled himself!

Olivia is now in regular Science, Band and Art with her peers and she is loving it. Finally!

The Goldbergs this week was one the funniest things I’ve seen in a while!

I think Julia and Joel are going to get back together this week on Parenthood!! Do you??

Matt and I are going out on a date tonight!

I have the best teaching partners ever!

Only 7 more school days until Thanksgiving break!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

I am working on a schedule for myself that will allow me to write a post at least three times a week. I have not been very good about that lately. I’m not going to lie, we’ve had a rough fall. With school starting, and especially with school not going well for Olivia at all this year, our focus has been on survival, basically. I haven’t been too focused on me or what I need because I’m focused on her and getting her what she needs. Matt’s been super stressed out too, so I’ve been focusing on him and helping him too. But I really miss writing here, and connecting with all of you, so I’m going to work on that.

So what made you happy this week? I hope there was a lot! Here’s what made me happy these last 2 weeks…

Surprising my friend at work with her favorite brownies that I make for her birthday…

A fall manicure with my manicurist who I adore…

A clean house…

Looking at my pictures on my phone and discovering three pictures taken by two of my favorite girl students…they are so goofy…

American Horror Story…we are watching Coven and Carnival Freak Show…those are some freaky shows…

Coffee with pumpkin spice creamer…

A weekend with no sports or commitments…just time to hang out and do school work…

Fall decorations…

A surprise care package from the 5p- Society filled with cups and pens and a magnet for our car…

Reading a good book even if it’s only for 10 minutes at a time…

Getting tables for my classroom instead of desks so the kids can sit in groups…

Having the opportunity to go to the national math conference with my colleagues and having a blast and learning a ton…

Being a part of a wonderful inservice on Tuesday that was educational, fun and inspiring…ask any teacher, that hardly ever happens!…

Having friends over for dinner and games…

remembering that, above all else, I love everyone in my life with all of my heart and I am loved in return.

Happy This Week

Project Runway finale!!! Man, I love that show!!!

Seeing my kids super excited to wear their Halloween costumes at Matthew’s school…you won’t find a cuter TNMT or Munchkin!

Playing Spot It after dinner on a Tuesday night…

Working with awesome people…especially the other two 8th grade math teachers …we work so well together and are such a great fit!

Coffee and America’s Next Top Model with my Mom…

The Walking Dead!!!!

Looking at my family and realizing just how loved and blessed I am…

It’s Friday!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week!

Coming to school and having a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and a card waiting for you from your dear friend because she knows you’ve been having a rough few weeks…

Coming to school and seeing this on your door from a former student…

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A new haircut for someone who is scared of change…

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A fun manicure…

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Students who bring you treats and cute pumpkins…and smiling every time you look at your post-it note to look up “your mom” jokes for your first period class because they are obsessed…

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Finding a bunch of great “your mom” jokes and making your class laugh…

Getting the “you rock” award at school this week…

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Getting a tuition reimbursement check for the full amount of your class…

Sweet texts from your husband saying your the best thing that’s ever happened to him…

Hearing “I love you, Mom”…

Advocating with my husband for Olivia and what she deserves…

Driving five boys and Olivia to soccer practice and listening to their conversations and spoiling them with pizza or Little Debbies…

Wine with my BFF…

Coffee with my Mom…

Making it to Friday when you weren’t sure if you would.

What made you happy this week?

Matthew is 9!

It was about a month ago…but my baby, my hilarious, kind and full of joy little man turned 9.

We couldn’t be more proud! We don’t know what we’d do without him.

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Beauty

I look at them…and I simply can’t believe how lucky I am to be their mother.

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Seeing Red

anger quote

I have discovered something about myself.

I’m angry. Very angry.

And I hold it all in and turn it on myself. I’m so mean to myself in my head it would probably make you cry.

It makes me cry.

And I think most of my self-hatred is due to all of this anger. I’m a kind, compassionate person who refuses to expel her anger on others…so where else could it go but inside?

But I’m trying to truly love myself and, therefore, I need to express my anger somehow.

I am so angry at Cri du Chat syndrome. Even though I love my daughter, and all that comes with being her mother, it doesn’t mean that I’m not angry about it. I try to be positive, and I’m really thankful for all of the wonderful things she’s brought to my life, but it doesn’t mean that I’m unaware or don’t feel all of the shitty parts also.

I’m angry because everything for Olivia is a struggle. It’s not fair. She has braces on her teeth, glasses for her eyes, scoliosis brace at night, still wears Pull-Ups, can’t communicate very well, can’t ride a bike, can’t hang out with friends, the list goes on and on and on and it’s so frustrating. It breaks my heart every single day.

She doesn’t have friends. She doesn’t seem to care but it makes me so sad and, frankly, angry too. She is amazing and sweet and hilarious and fun to hang out with. Why wouldn’t someone like that have friends? Because she’s “different” and that just sucks. I love hanging out with her, her brothers and family love hanging out with her, why doesn’t anyone else? Why does she eat lunch alone?

School for Olivia hasn’t been going very well. We are battling a bit. That makes me ridiculously angry. It’s unfair that someone as precious and vulnerable as Olivia has to endure anything but perfection while at school. I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel. And I’ve told you before, I’m ok with being that mom if I have to. But, damn, it’s exhausting. And frustrating. And heart wrenching. And makes me angry. Why does it have to be so hard?

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I’m angry because she’ll get her period soon and won’t understand why or how to handle it. I’m angry because I’ll have to handle it alone. I’m angry because I think I’ve had enough of that kind of bullshit to last a lifetime and I think I should get a pass on this one.

She won’t get married, won’t get her license, won’t go to college, won’t live on her own, won’t have children, won’t do so many things. It’s so unfair.

We have to take her wheelchair/stroller everywhere we go. Grocery shopping is getting to a be a real challenge now that she’s getting bigger. Everything is! There’s no quick stops to the drug store or the grocery store or the library. There’s no leaving her at home alone even though she’s almost 14.

And for me? I’m exhausted. All of the time. I constantly worry about her. Matt and I have to work so much harder at our marriage because of our stress thanks to her syndrome. Every day is hard. You’re never “off” when your child has special needs. Ever. And the thing that makes it even more difficult? It never ends. Sometimes when I hear people complain, I just want to scream. Maybe they’re complaining about potty training or not sleeping or not being able to go out to dinner and I just want to explode because it’s temporary for them. Eventually their child will use the potty. Eventually they will sleep. Eventually they will grow up and have a life of their own. But not Olivia. Our struggles are never ending. It’s not temporary. It’s forever.

And, yes, trust me, if you’re a regular reader you know that I love my life, I am positive, I always look for the silver lining. But, as stated numerous times in The Fault in Our Stars, pain demands to be felt. And the longer I hold it in, and pretend it’s not there, the worse off I am.

So I’m seeing red. Lots of it. I’m angry.

There. I said it.

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How Far She’s Come

It’s so easy to get lost in the downfalls of having a child with special needs. The potty training at 13, the stroller still needed, the $4000 to set up a special needs trust so she will be taken care of, the messes made, the frustrations. It’s so easy to wallow in those, to forget all of the good, to forget how far she’s come.

I pick her up from the sitter’s after school and she lights up to see me. She yells “Hi Mom!” and runs to the car. How many years did I beg and pray for her to say “mom”? How many hours did we spend working on walking and running?

She says she’s hungry and wants string cheese and crackers. She walks to the cupboard and chooses the crackers and tries to sneak Oreos. How many years did we fret that she may never be able to tell us what she wants? How many conversations did we have about her being able to just ask for simple things like crackers and cheese?

She’s frustrated by hormones or her brothers or lack of pajama time. She yells and voices her unhappiness. She has a stomachache or a sore throat and is able to tell us and ask for medicine. How many years did we worry that we’d never know she was in pain?

She treats her stuffed animals like best friends. She talks to them, she plays with them, she chooses one each night to sleep with. She loves hanging out with them, with me, with Daddy, with her brothers, with Grandma. We are her friends and she is perfectly content to just have us to play with. How many hours (even now) have I/do I spend worrying about her lack of friends? If it doesn’t seem to bother her, why does it bother me so much?

She gives us hugs, she tells us she loves us, she tells we’re beautiful and handsome and gentle and wonderful. How many years did we spend waiting for any words at all?

When I think I can’t possible do one more day, change one more pull-up, pick up one more mess, think one more depressing thought, I look at her and I remember. I remember all of the little things I hoped she would accomplish and think about just how very far she’s come.

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